Professor Mina Hoorfar - Credit: Contributed

A more efficient way for clean water

Kelowna - A 3D printed model allows UBCO researchers to test water quality

Researchers at UBC’s Okanagan have designed a tiny device —built using a 3D printer—that can monitor drinking water quality and help protect against waterborne illness.

Director of the School of Engineering Mina Hoorfar said new research proves miniaturized water quality sensors are cheap to make, can operate continuously and can be deployed anywhere in the water distribution system.

“Current water safety practice involves only periodic hand testing, which limits sampling frequency and leads to a higher probably of disease outbreak,” she said. “Traditional water quality sensors have been too expensive and unreliable to use across an entire water system.”

Tiny devices created in her Advanced Thermo-Fluidic lab at UBC’s Okanagan are proving reliable and sturdy enough to provide accurate readings regardless of water pressure or temperature, according to a UBCO release.

The sensors are wireless, reporting back to the testing stations, and work independently—meaning that if one stops working, it does not bring down the whole system. And since they’re made using 3D printers, they are fast, inexpensive and easy to produce, said the release.

While many urban purification plants have real-time monitoring sensors, they are upstream of the distribution system. Often, Hoorfar said, the pressure at which water is supplied to the customer is much higher than what most sensors can tolerate.

But her new sensors can be placed right at or within a customer’s home, providing a direct and precise layer of protection against unsafe water.

More than 17 years ago, four people died and hundreds became ill after drinking E.coli-affected water in Walkerton, Ontario.

“Although the majority of water-related diseases occur in lower- or middle-income countries, water quality events in Walkerton, for example, raise serious questions about consistent water safety in even developed countries like Canada,” said Hoorfar. “Many of these tragedies could be prevented with frequent monitoring and early detection of pathogens causing the outbreak.”

The research was recently published in Sensors.

Just Posted

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission serves annual Christmas dinner

Between 700 to 800 meals were served Saturday to the community

Your weekend story highlights

Every Saturday, the Capital News will highlight stories from the week

The Paperboys visit Kelowna

Check out the Rotary Centre for the Arts Jan. 27

Let it snow in Kelowna

Snow is in the forecast for this week

Photos: Adventuring in Stuart Park

Have you seen Friday’s edition of the Capital News? Check out the photos featured

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Meningococcal clinics open this Sunday

Interior Health is stepping up efforts to get young people vaccinated against Meningococcal.

Update: RCMP arrest domestic assault suspect west of Kamloops.

The RCMP Emergency Response Team made the arrest at around 4:30 p.m.

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Most Read